New Mask Guidance, Travel and Vaccines

To Our Faculty, Staff and Students:

We write today with updates regarding masks, travel and vaccines—as well as an expression of appreciation to everyone involved in starting the spring semester safely.

New Federal Findings for Masks

Today, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released findings that wearing tightly fitted masks can reduce exposure by as much as 95 percent. Their experiments to achieve the tight fit involved two approaches:

  1. Wearing a cloth mask over a medical procedure mask; and
  2. Wearing a medical procedure mask with knotted ear loops and tucked-in sides.

In response to these results, the CDC issued new guidance regarding multiple options to improve mask fit, including the approaches used in the experiments as well as additional measures. We encourage members of the campus community to review this information and ensure their masks fit well.

Guidance Regarding Out-of-State Travel

While the semester has just begun, University Health & Counseling Services already has begun receiving questions regarding requirements for people returning from trips outside the state. First, the CDC strongly advises against travel right now because of the high prevalence of COVID-19 infections around the country. Its guidance includes a recommendation that you be tested for COVID-19 one to three days before departure, check travel restrictions at your destination(s), and be tested again three to five days after get back to Cleveland.

Regardless of the result of your test after your return, you must self-quarantine for a minimum of seven days after travel out of state. That requirement continues for seven days even if your COVID-19 test is negative.

If you enter Ohio from a state with a positivity rate of 15 percent or higher, the state requires that you self-quarantine for 15 days. You can find the list of states on the Ohio Department of Health website; it is updated weekly on Tuesdays.

Also, as a reminder, all university-related travel beyond Northeast Ohio (e.g. outside of Cuyahoga, Lake, Geauga, Portage, Summit, Medina and Lorain counties) must be approved in writing in advance. Staff may submit requests through the staff form, while faculty should use this faculty form. Failure to secure written approval prior to departure could prevent reimbursements for travel expenses.

Vaccination Updates

Under Gov. Mike DeWine’s vaccination roll-out plan, those involved in providing health care were the first eligible to receive doses. With the assistance of hospital and public health partners, several hundred faculty, staff and students began the vaccination process last month. 

Starting Jan. 19, Ohio began the transition to providing vaccinations for those in Phase 1b—first with state residents who were 80 and older, then 75 and older, and, this past Monday, state residents 65 and older. As part of our efforts to encourage vaccination among members of the campus community, we notified all faculty and staff who met those criteria of area pharmacies and stores accepting vaccination appointments. At this time, we are not aware of additional opportunities for those within our campus community who are involved in health care to secure vaccinations. We will provide updates should these circumstances change.

The next stage of vaccine eligibility starts Monday, Feb. 15, and applies to individuals with severe congenital, developmental or early-onset and inherited conditions. For more information about the state’s phases, visit its vaccination program page

Please continue to follow campus prevention protocols—including maintaining physical distance, frequently washing hands and, of course, weekly testing for those who come to campus for any period of time, even briefly.

Sara Lee, MD
Executive Director, University Health & Counseling Services

Lou Stark
Vice President for Student Affairs

Carolyn Gregory
Vice President for Human Resources